Contact Innovation Awards

It’s rare that I get to put some money where my mouth is. In this case, thankfully, it’s someone else’s money.

An anonymous donor has put up $30,000 for me to use at the Contact Summit to encourage the conception and deployment of innovative networking and technology solutions to our greatest collective challenges. So today I’m announcing the Contact Innovation Awards: ten thousand dollars to be awarded to each of the three most compelling and achievable ideas presented at the Contact Bazaar on October 20, 2011, in New York City as part of Contact.

Contact will be a participatory festival for ideas and action geared toward realizing the greater potential of our peer-to-peer networks to foster social, political, economic, and evolutionary goals that many of its earlier pioneers championed. Yes, my motivation is partly anti-corporate. I want to fold the some of the wilder edges of digital culture back to the center, and restore a bit of the spirit of optimism and infinite possibility embodied by Mondo2000, BoingBoing and Fringeware. I also want to help connect activists, craftspeople, and others on the decentralized landscape connect to the technologists who can make their visions a reality. 

I’ve broken up the content of the day into five main tracks: 

Can we build an alternative Internet that can’t be turned off? Alternatives to top-down registries and corporate-controlled access

New net-based currencies and transaction networks. Net-enabled Local Activism and Job Creation

Arts networking initiatives, Decentralized social networking platforms

Proxy voting to expert friends, open source democracy, “Filter Bubbles” and how to prevent them

Collective Intelligence? The Reclamation of Public Space. Identity. 

The day will consist of three main parts:

Selected participants will deliver brief “provocations” on stage, sharing the greatest challenges they are facing in their particular fields.

Attendees will convene meetings to share their own ideas, get advice, find collaborators, and move forward.

A two-hour midday Bazaar, when the entire venue becomes an open marketplace of ideas and demos. Participants get assigned tabletops to demo or share their ideas and projects.

I’ll be selecting judges from among Contact’s Featured Participants to view projects in the different track areas above. We’ll announce the winners at an evening extension of the Bazaar, where demos can continue along with drinking and entertainment.

I’ve got a special discount arranged for BoingBoing readers – but I figure readers should be entitled to it as well. Type Boingo199 into the discount box for a $199 ticket vs. the regular $245 earlybird price. If that’s still just too much, then please apply for one of a limited number of scholarship $99 tickets here.